Episode: New Year, New You

Michael Hyatt: Hi, I’m Michael Hyatt.

Megan Hyatt Miller: And I’m Megan Hyatt Miller.

Michael:  And this is Lead to Win, our weekly podcast to help you win at work, succeed at life, and lead with confidence. This is the time when many leaders are thinking about goal achievement for the coming year, and the perfect way to do that is to conduct what we call an annual preview, or, more technically, an annual review and preview.

Megan: As high achievers, all of us want to achieve even more in the year ahead, but diving back into work after the holidays causes you to lose focus. We know from years of experience that conducting an annual preview is the perfect way to get clarity on the year ahead, so we’re going to do ours with you right now on the show. Follow the six steps we’ll outline today, and you’ll avoid carrying mistakes from last year into 2019. You’ll start the year with the clarity, focus, and motivation you need to reach your goals over the next 12 months.

Michael: To help us do that, we’ve invited Larry Wilson, who’s our senior writer on Lead to Win, to lead us through this process. Larry, welcome, first of all.

Larry Wilson: Thank you. Great to be here, guys.

Megan: Thanks for coming back.

Larry: Hey, before we dive in here, I think a lot of people would benefit from getting some background on this review/preview. It really stems from the after-action review we’ve talked a lot about on the podcast. Let’s just remind everybody what that is and how we use it.

Michael: The after-action review is a concept we got from the US military. In fact, I was just at West Point the last two days and got to hear a general lecture on the history of West Point, and one of the things he talked about was how the after-action review is integrally a part of everything they do at the academy, and it’s a part of everything we do at Michael Hyatt & Company, not because we have a military background but because we thought it was a useful process for assessing any initiative, campaign, goal.

Any program we try to launch at Michael Hyatt & Company, we go through an after-action review, which allows us to assess… We think of it as under the rubric of the KISS acronym, maybe not the acronym you’re familiar with (Keep It Simple, Stupid), but what do we want to keep doing, what do we want to improve, what do we want to stop doing, and what do we want to start doing?

It’s a way to make sure you squeeze all the juice out of this last year and make sure you learn from it so you can improve your results going forward. Most organizations don’t do that. Most individuals don’t do that. That’s why so many organizations have a repeat of the same year, year after year. They don’t get better because they don’t do the assessment work that happens when you do an after-action review.

Larry: We’re going to talk about the three-by-three goal achievement strategy. Megan, would you remind us what that is? I know we’re going to talk in detail next week, but this show today is kind of based on the same concept.

Megan: The three-by-three strategy is just a visibility strategy for goal review that involves a system for daily, weekly, and quarterly reviewing of your goals. This is kind of like the insurance plan for your annual goals so you don’t lose visibility and you have a disciplined way of keeping them front and center.

Michael: The idea is that you have three goals for the quarter, three priorities for the week, and three big tasks for each day. That’s essentially the three-by-three.

Megan: That’s how you break down the annual big goals you have into a quarterly, weekly, and daily basis.

Larry: We’ll do a deep dive on that next week on the show, but we’re kind of basing this process off of that same conceptual material. So let’s get started with this New Year’s preview and review. We have a six-step process we’re going to walk through today. I know you guys have already completed your year. The fiscal year here ends on November 30, so we’re just a little bit into the year, but New Year’s Day is a great time to learn from last year and make plans for the new year.

Step 1 in our review and preview is…What were your biggest wins from last year? First of all, why is this important that we do this? Then I want you to actually tell me what your wins were.

Megan: Well, the reason this is so important is because, as leaders, our failures are very present to us. Especially as we come in for a landing on a year, we can focus so much on the things we didn’t accomplish and really forget, almost have amnesia about the great things that happened as well.

Michael: “Goal-nesia.” It’s a new term.

Megan: Yeah, it’s a real thing. If we don’t take a minute to review the things that were positive that happened, the wins, then it can be a very negative setup for thinking about the coming year. You kind of start from a defeated place. We really want people to start from a place of feeling empowered and excited about what they’re able to accomplish.

Larry: I think that’s super important. So, Megan, what were your top three wins? You can talk personally or professionally or mix them up if you want to, but what were your top three wins last year?

Megan: My top personal win is that my husband Joel and I took a sabbatical for a month. We went out west, mostly spent our time in Montana. This is the first time we’ve done that complete sabbatical process. Our kids were out of school for the summer. We went to several state parks. Really, we were aiming for making memories and having meaningful connection, and we absolutely did that, so it was fantastic. We also decided we don’t ever want to drive for five days straight again. We did make that decision.

Secondly, we launched our BusinessAccelerator coaching program, which was kind of the next level of a coaching program we’ve had for a few years now. We’re really proud of that and so excited about the transformation we’ve seen already with our clients and that we will see throughout the three-year curriculum we’ve built.

The third one is really tough, but I would say opening our office, personally for me, is a huge win, not only because that project was my baby (we have a whole episode on that) but because we’ve seen the fruit of that in greater collaboration and teamwork with our team. It has been so fun to have a home base, a headquarters, and see what people get out of that professionally and in terms of just their own personal satisfaction with their work because they’re more connected with one another.

Larry: Michael, top three wins for you?

Michael: Well, similar to Megan, I took a sabbatical again this year. I’ve done this every year for about seven years now. Gail and I went to British Columbia. We went to Vancouver. We went to Vancouver Island. We went to a place called Bella Bella where, for a week, we were in this really nice, posh fishing camp. We had to get there by helicopter. It was very remote.

Megan: Two things you didn’t know could go together: fishing camp and posh. I like that.

Michael: I know. But it was really, really nice, and we caught a ton of salmon. In fact, last night we ate salmon from that. We brought back 85 pounds of salmon and halibut that we caught on that trip. That was a lot of fun. That was a 30-day sabbatical. Earlier in the summer, another goal of mine… When one of our grandkids turns 13, we take them on a one-week trip that they get to plan with us. It has to be in the continental US, just to make sure it’s manageable.

We went out west. We started in Phoenix, and we made our way north up through Wyoming and Montana and ended up at Glacier National Park. We went fly-fishing. We went horseback riding. We had this amazing time of connection with our granddaughter. This was, I think, the fourth one we’ve done now. That creates a kind of relationship moving forward as they go into their teenage years with us, as their grandparents, that I don’t know how else we could do it. Just that intense focus for a week has been invaluable.

In terms of a business goal, this year I finished the manuscript for my new book, which is coming out in April, Free to Focus. I’m super, super excited about that. I think it’s my most important book. That was a delight to work on that with Joel Miller, who’s our chief content officer. So those are my three goals.

Larry: I think it’s important to point out here, too, to pause and look at this, that between the two of you that’s six wins, and three of them were personal. When we talk about your biggest wins, we’re not just talking about revenue or business gains, but this is your whole life.

Michael: It’s really true. I don’t think you can get to the end of the year and say, “That was my best year ever” if you had a great year at work but you had a health crisis or you lost connection with your spouse or a significant other or one of your kids. I’m after what we often call the double win: win at work and succeed at life. I don’t want to win at work at the expense of my life, so all that stuff has to work together, but that only comes with intention, only by design. You’re not going to drift into that. It has to be designed.

Larry: Let’s move to step 2, which is to conduct an after-action review. I have three questions for you, and you can jump in, either of you, wherever you like. The first one is…What worked? As you think about last year, what worked for you?

Michael: I think having exciting projects that built on an existing concept but took it to the next level. For example, we saw a lot of momentum and a lot of excitement around the Full Focus Planner, and we saw communities spontaneously springing up all across the world where people wanted to get together and meet up. They wanted to talk about how they were using it, and that kind of thing.

Back last summer, we saw an opportunity. We didn’t have long to plan this, but we thought, “What if we created an event where people came together and it was all about the Full Focus Planner and about achievement?” So we named it Achieve. Meg, you may remember how many weeks we had from the time we first came up with the concept to the time we actually had the conference in September.

Megan: I think it was three months or less.

Michael: Yeah. So, not a lot of time. We had to create all of the logistics. We had to book a venue. We had to sell tickets, and we had almost 1,000 people there. I think it was a huge success, but part of what made that work is we were building off an existing success.

Megan: I think what worked for me was our team. We made some really key hires this year, including our new director of marketing, who reports to our chief marketing officer, and then our director of physical product design and packaging, who is on your team, Larry. Because we’ve expanded physical products and because our marketing has become more complex, the addition of those two leaders has really freed up the leaders they report to to lead at a higher level and also just expanded our capability and the expertise we have. Anytime we add people to our team who are A players, like those two are, it enables us to take a big leap, and I think that was certainly true this year.

Michael: I agree.

Larry: That’s going to bring us to the second question. Now we head into some territory a lot of people don’t really want to look at, but it’s important to ask these questions as well. What didn’t work? What didn’t work either personally or professionally in 2018?

Michael: Okay, I’m going to visit the honest planet here. Part of what didn’t work is we were overly aggressive about some goals at the beginning of the year. They didn’t seem like they were too aggressive in isolation. It seemed like they were in the discomfort zone, but when you put a lot of discomfort zones together organizationally, if you’re not careful you end up in the delusional zone because you’re trying to do too much at once.

What happened to us is that we got behind on some of our financial goals early in the year, which had a compounding effect. We’re high achievers, and we want to accomplish our goals, so we said, “Hey, fine. No problem. We’ll just double up the effort, increase the pace, and actually make up for what we lost.” The problem was that created a lot of problems with pace and margin.

I think most of us got to the end of this year…I’m just being honest…pretty exhausted, pretty much feeling like we don’t want a repeat in that sense this next year. That’s not going to work. So this next year, we were much more conscious to make sure that collectively all of the goals are in the discomfort zone, but individually…not so much. We want goals we have a shot of actually achieving, because we need to rebuild that sense of momentum and confidence that, frankly, got a little bit dinged back at the beginning of 2018.

Megan: I’ll tell you what’s great about that, too. First of all, that was hard. I don’t want to gloss over that, but it makes for really important conversations, especially when you’re scaling a business. When you’ve had a miss on something, you ask better questions. It’s easy to get overly confident and sort of think everything you do is going to work no matter what.

Michael: Complacent.

Megan: Right. Complacent or even cocky, which is probably worse. What happens when you miss is it enables you to ask humbler questions but better quality questions, questions around, “What are we doing that we just need to not do? Where do we need to prune? Where have we gotten sloppy or inefficient that we really need to tidy up?”

Those kinds of questions have led to really interesting answers that will make for not only better, more intelligent setting of our business goals, but certainly our execution is already so much better and our leadership is so much better. I’ve learned over the years when those things happen not to fight them but to enter into the analysis and the question asking, because there are gems there you cannot find any other way but failure, and you need them for your future success.

Michael: You do.

Larry: You’re really pointing to the need for what we’re doing right now, which is to conduct an after-action review, not just on an annual basis but even on a project basis or at a smaller level. That brings us to the third question, which has really already been answered, but this is a way of crystalizing the answers. It’s the KISS principle you mentioned earlier. What do you want to keep doing, improve, start doing, or stop doing? So, having thought about what worked and what didn’t, what do you want to keep doing?

Michael: I want to keep growing. I want to keep reaching for new initiatives. I want to keep innovating. None of that can go away, because that’s the lifeblood of any organization. You can’t coast. If you just decide you’re going to coast, you’re going to go backward, because there’s a current you’re swimming against. I want to keep involving the team in the process of the after-action reviews, because people on our team see things we don’t see. It was amazing when we went through strategic planning about six weeks or two months ago when we started the process how much was corroborated by the collective insight of the leadership team.

Megan: And our larger team, actually.

Michael: Actually the larger team too.

Megan: We do a whole team survey to get their input, kind of a modified SWOT analysis that they participate in via survey. It was amazing how much consensus there was and also how much our leadership team agreed with them.

Michael: For example, people talked about pace and just it was unsustainable, and we went, “Yep, you got that right.” It was confirmed to all of us what all of us were feeling. But still, under this question of what we want to keep doing, I want to keep doing the planning that way. I want to keep involving the team that way, because they see stuff we don’t see.

Megan: I want to keep our focus on culture and developing our team, because one of the things we talked about in our most recent team training is that individually and collectively as a team we have to continue growing at the same rate or even ahead of the rate the business is growing. The COO that Michael Hyatt & Company is going to need next year is not the person I am today, so I have to continue growing, and that’s true for every single person on our team in order to be ahead of the growth we’re pursuing. That’s really exciting to me, but it means as leaders and as principals we have to invest in our team and their growth and development as our top priority so we can all move together in the same direction toward our future.

Larry: So, what do you want to improve? Obviously, you want to keep doing the things that are working well. Is there anything you still want to do but it really needs to be ramped up a bit?

Megan: One of the things I’ve been thinking about in the last couple of weeks is how to make my thinking about certain things related to our culture more explicit so we can align the team around them, whether that’s a vision for the future or something I want to happen within the company itself or with an initiative. As you grow and scale, the communication becomes more challenging, because instead of a one-to-one it’s a one-to-one, one-to-few, and then one-to-many, and how do you get that communication clearly through your whole organization?

So my focus is going to be on making my communication more explicit through writing through one of our tools called the Project Vision Caster that I’m going to be using in a really disciplined way so I can transmit that thinking and so we don’t have kind of a game of Telephone, where by the time it gets to the last person it’s less clear or different than where you started. I think that’s a really important piece of what our team needs to stay aligned as we grow.

Michael: One of the things I definitely want to improve is our budgeting process. We’re pretty disciplined about that, but I think we’ve learned some things this past year in terms of having not just an overall budget but a more specific budget for different projects and different campaigns so we can track those expenses and make sure we hit the profit objectives we want to hit. There’s some tweaking to that. It’s not a major thing. It’s not that it’s not in place, but we can definitely improve it.

Larry: Okay. How about something you’re going to stop doing?

Megan: I am going to stop staying up so late at night.

Michael: Oh, that’s a good one.

Megan: This is probably going to rotate through my goal list about every two to three years, because it’s a real struggle for me. I really need to be going to bed by 9:30 if I’m going to get up at 5:30. My challenge is that after I put my kids to bed… You parents of younger kids who are at home, you can probably relate to this. You just want some time by yourself, and there can be great creep to that, where all of a sudden it’s 9:30, it’s 10:00. My husband Joel may be working on something else. We have decided together this is a critical priority, because sleep is the foundation not only for good self-care and health but for high-quality thinking and leadership. So as basic as it sounds, that’s going away.

Larry: I can help you with that. If you want to get to bed earlier, unsubscribe from Netflix, and don’t ask me how I know.

Megan: Oh my gosh.

Michael: “Asking for a friend.”

Megan: No, that’s too hard.

Larry: So we’ve been through step 1, which was to list wins and begin whatever new period it is (in this case a year) in a posture of gratitude, and we’ve conducted a mini after-action review to find out what worked and what didn’t, some things to drop and add. Step 3 is to conduct a goal review. Really, this is goal setting. Now I know you’ve done this because we did it as a company. Do you have a personal goal you’d be willing to share? We’re kind of looking forward. This is something you envision that this year is going to be true in your life. What would that be?

Megan: One of mine that I’m really excited about is to start or join a small group with my church by February 1, 2019. This is something I’ve not done before, but Joel and I, in our reflection on 2018, feel like we need to prioritize regular, intentional community that’s not just random and unplanned, but we need a little bit more structure there.

We were invited to participate in one with some people at our church. I’ve kind of taken on spearheading organizing that a little bit, and I think we may end up hosting it, but I’m really excited about that, just having that consistent group of people we’re doing life with, who we meet with every other week in our home or maybe back and forth with another couple. I think that’s going to be an important life domain to focus on, that social friendship piece, especially with a spiritual component.

Larry: Michael, do you have a personal goal you can share?

Michael: Yes. I have a goal that’s in the realm of physical fitness, and it’s to run the St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon here in Nashville on April 27. I haven’t run a half marathon since 2010, and I ran about five or so before that. Part of it was I felt like “Been there, done that,” and it kind of lost the pizazz, but one of the things I’ve noticed over the last several years is that my cardio training has lacked direction and has become boring to me. As an achiever, I like achieving things.

I noticed when I first had this thought… It was at our team training, and we were confronting our own limiting beliefs, and I thought to myself, “I’m too old for that.” I thought, “Oh! Now I have to do it. I have to confront that limiting belief.” I’ll never forget the first time I was running that same half marathon. (At the time, it was called the Country Music Half Marathon.) I was behind a guy who had a tee shirt, as I was coming up on him, and the back of his tee shirt said, “I may be 80, but I’m ahead of you.” That guy has always inspired me.

I thought, “You know, I think I would really enjoy the training process,” because then it gives meaning to my cardio workouts, because I’m actually moving toward a bigger goal. I love, love, love how I felt back in those days when I was training for the half marathon and just what I had to overcome personally and psychologically to achieve it. Having just been at West Point where they talked about that one of the number-one things for an effective leader is resilience and one of the best ways to learn resilience is to have to overcome something physical and that’s why they place so much emphasis on physical fitness, I thought, “You know, this is something I need to get back into.”

Larry: Well, let me walk you through the SMARTER framework and see if we can check off these boxes here. Specific. So it is…

Michael: The St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon.

Larry: Okay, so it’s a particular race. It’s very specific. Measurable.

Michael: Well, it’s kind of measurable by virtue of the fact that it has a date on it. I’ll know when I get to the end of the day on April 27 whether I ran it or not.

Megan: It’s also 13.1 miles.

Michael: That’s true.

Megan: That’s baked into a half marathon.

Larry: Actionable.

Michael: Yes. I started with a good strong action verb: run.

Larry: Risky.

Michael: It’s risky because I haven’t done it in almost a decade. Running the race is not the challenge; it’s the getting there that’s the challenge. Can I train without creating some kind of stress fracture or plantar fasciitis, all things I’ve encountered in the past, some kind of injury that would keep me out of it? Can I overcome the psychological part of it? Can I overcome making time for the training, particularly as I get closer to the event and I’m running longer distances?

Larry: Time-keyed, because it does have a date. What was the date again?

Michael: The date is April 27, and this is an achievement goal, so there’s only one time key.

Larry: Exciting. We heard you talk about getting excited about getting back into running and the way that’s going to make you feel, the key motivation too.

Michael: Plus there are two exciting points in the race: when you start and when you end. The in between? Not so much.

Larry: And relevant, the final R. You talked about your health and life stage and why this is meaningful at this time in your life.

Michael: I never really thought about this before now, but I think I have something to prove to myself. At this point in my life, I think I want to prove to myself that I can still stay on top of my physical goals and I don’t have to just… I get that I’m going to eventually get old and die, but I don’t want to do that any sooner than I have to, and I’d like to stay strong until the end.

Larry: Well, we’ve been through three steps of our process: listing wins, conducting an after-action review, and conducting a goal review. That brings us to step 4, which is to conduct a calendar review. This is easier to visualize and think about on a daily basis or a weekly basis…you look at your appointments and your schedule. But we’re really talking about big rocks here on an annual basis. So look over, think over the next 12 months. What are some big rocks that are there, and are you committed to them? Have you changed any of them? How does this year shape up for you? One of the things I want to get to is that you recommit to your priorities.

Michael: For me, part of this process begins (it actually began in September with my assistant Jim)… I completed a tool we have called Spend Your Days on Paper. We got this idea from Dave Ramsey who says that as you’re planning your budget for the next month or the next year every dollar has to have a name. You want to spend it on paper before you have to experience it in reality. I do the same thing with time. Time is a resource just like money. The only difference is that you don’t have an unlimited supply and you can’t get more of it. You have a fixed number of days you have.

What I did, how I put the big rocks into that tool (and we’ll link to this tool so people have access to it if they want it; it’s a pretty cool tool)… I said, “First of all, I’m going to spend my free time.” So, the time offstage…that’s what I want to do first, because most people do the exact opposite. They put in all of the big rocks, and if they have time leftover they’ll take some vacation, they’ll take the weekends off. I said, “No, that’s not how I start.” I haven’t done it that way for years.

I’m going to start, first, what vacations do I want to take? I want to take three weeks of vacation, and in addition I want to take a four-week sabbatical. So, seven complete weeks off, not counting holidays or weekends. That’s the first thing that has to go into my schedule, and my work has to fit around that. If you’ve never done that before, it’s a game changer, and it creates some constraints on the days that are left so you make sure you get your work done and don’t just drift into this time that you could spend offstage actually rejuvenating and getting refreshed and ready to go to the next level.

So that was first. Then I took my most important activities, and I said, “Okay, there are certain things that are more important than other things.” So then I put in that next level of priorities. Then I just worked through. It’s a fixed number of days, and it all has to balance in the end. I also knew I need some margin for things. I don’t know if this happens to anybody else, but occasionally things take longer than I think, so I have to have some fudge factor in there. I have to have some margin in there. All of it has to balance out.

It forces me to make some really hard decisions about what I’m going to do. As long as you don’t confront the limitations of your calendar, you end up overplanning and doing all this stuff and not making the hard decisions about what’s really possible, but when you’re looking at a fixed number of days that are on the calendar that you get to spend any way you want… I think Greg McKeown said this. You can do anything you want; you just can’t do everything you want. It forces you to make decisions.

Larry: That’s really the beauty of a calendar review at any level, even for a week or a month. You’re doing the same thing. Meg, what does your year look like, and how did it get shaped that way?

Megan: Well, one of the things that’s going to be new for me this year is I’m going to be intentional about spending two days a week out of the office. That’ll probably happen toward the end of the first quarter. I’m doing some renovation on my home office coming up to make space for that. I also need more time to think and more time, as I said earlier, to articulate my vision and the front end of projects for my team. Right now, I’ve been doing that through meetings. I’m going to reduce that and spend more time just focused on thinking. I think that’s going to be really exciting.

I’m also going to be spending a significant amount of time on a top-secret project for women in our audience. We have been getting a lot of feedback from you ladies about things you would like to see in terms of physical products, in terms of content, so I am closely working with the content team on those projects. More to come on that. It’s going to be exciting to see that evolve.

Larry: Well, that brings us to step 5 in our process, which is to review your daily rituals. Michael, just remind us what the daily rituals are, and then I’d like to hear some of your daily ritual and if there were any changes you made this year.

Michael: A ritual is basically a way of self-automation. It’s a way to put a series of events you do on automatic pilot. These are things you’re going to do habitually and routinely, and you’re going to do it so you can set yourself up for the best day possible. I got this from the world of athletics where I watched athletes who had these pre-game rituals. Sometimes they’re even superstitious about it, some things they have to do the night before or the day of the game. It sets them up psychologically and, I would say, physically and emotionally and every other way to actually succeed.

The truth is everybody has a ritual. It just may not be intentional. All I’m saying is let’s be intentional and design the rituals that set us up for success. My morning ritual… Some of this is embarrassing in the sense that it’s so detailed, but I just want to line this out and know what program I’m going to run through. I have about 12 things I do on a daily basis as part of my morning ritual.

Megan: Seriously?

Michael: Yeah.

Megan: That’s a lot of things.

Michael: Well, it’s everything I do from the time I wake up until the time I hit the office. Now I really am embarrassed.

Megan: Sorry.

Michael: So, I wake up and I breathe… No, no. The first thing I do is I rehydrate when I get up in the morning. I drink a big glass of water. It happens to be with apple cider vinegar. Then I take my morning supplements. I make some bulletproof coffee, read the Bible, pray, journal, meditate, drive to the gym with my wife, exercise, drive home, shower, and dress.

Larry: Megan?

Megan: Getting to bed on time is so important for me, so I really had to redo my evening routine. I’ve decided my kids go to bed at 7:00, and that is when my evening routine has to start. That includes putting them to bed, obviously, and then I have introvert time. My husband Joel and I talked about this. We are both introverts, so after a long day at the office with meetings we need time just to do our own thing. That could be watching a show, reading, or taking a bath, going on a walk for him, whatever that looks like.

Michael: Do you call that “introvert time”?

Megan: I call it “introvert time.”

Michael: Love that. That’s a thing.

Megan: I have an hour of introvert time built in my evening ritual. Then I have 30 minutes of time to connect with Joel. We do want to spend time together, but we feel like that’s the most productive: after we’ve had a little time to ourselves after we’ve put our kids to bed. Then getting ready for bed, praying together before bed, and then our lights are out. It’s kind of basic, again, but I’ve built in (Larry, to your point) the Netflix time, because that, for me, is a nice way to decompress, but I’ve also made sure it’s not going to keep me up too late. There’s an end point to that.

Michael: I just want to say there’s no shame in Netflix time.

Megan: No.

Michael: There’s so much good television on.

Megan: Or Amazon Prime. Guys, you’re paying for it already. It’s there.

Michael: Use it.

Megan: There’s a lot you don’t even know about.

Larry: Well, let’s get to step 6. This is the final step in our annual preview: review your Ideal Week. Megan, tell me what an Ideal Week is. Remind us for listeners who may not be familiar, and then I would like to know if you have made significant changes to your Ideal Week moving into the new year.

Megan: The Ideal Week is really just that. It’s your ideal week. If you could blueprint your week in terms of the blocks of time you want to spend on certain things and batch those together, what would the rhythm of your week look like? We actually lay this out in a Google calendar called Ideal Week. It’s also in your planner. You can do that in an analog fashion there.

It’s very helpful, because you make sure that you’re making time for all of the things that matter most to you in a way that has a rhythm to it. You can give this to your executive assistant to populate. Not that you’re ever going to adhere to it 100 percent. For those of you who are natural perfectionists, that’s important to say. Your real week is never going to adhere to your Ideal Week 100 percent, but it gives you some guardrails on where things go.

For example, internal meetings, external meetings, front-stage activities like meeting with clients or creating a podcast. Like, this is a particular day in our Ideal Week where we’re creating content that we produce, which is a front-stage activity for us. We also have in our company Ideal Week on Thursdays… That’s a meeting-free day. That’s a project day for most people, where they’re working on projects, deep work…those kinds of things. So, it gives you some guidelines.

For my personal Ideal Week, I’m making some changes this year in how I do my meetings with direct reports. I’m going to shift those to Tuesdays. I’ve previously done them on a combination of Monday and Tuesday. I’m going to consolidate those. I’m also going to be out of the office two days a week (that’ll probably be Thursday and Friday) working from home. That will enable me to minimize my meetings and do more of that focused work that has been challenging with so many meetings. Then Monday is the day I’ll spend doing internal meetings. That will be our executive team meetings, leadership team meetings, things like that, outside of one-on-ones.

Larry: We can see that when you do your after-action review and you find out what’s working and what’s not working, that’s going to inform things like your Ideal Week and flow down into the way you actually spend your days.

Megan: Right. These aren’t big sweeping changes, but what you find is that you can make small tweaks that can have a big impact. You don’t want to lose the opportunity to do that.

Larry: Michael, how about you? Have you made any adjustments to your Ideal Week for 2019?

Michael: Yes, and definitely related to my after-action review. For example, this last year I had three days a week dedicated to front-stage kinds of activities. By the way, it’s a designation we use in Free to Focus. A front-stage activity is what you’re getting paid for by the person who employs you. In my case, those would be things like webinars or speeches or podcasts or those types of things.

This year, what I’ve changed in my Ideal Week… Again, I look at this every quarter. I have three days a week allocated for backstage activities. Like, Monday is my meeting day. Thursday is other backstage activities. That could be preparation for something. It could be rehearsal. It could be a number of things. Then Friday is my day… I have the whole day blocked for visioneering, which is kind of to go back to that “think time” we had talked about earlier.

Then for me, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are front-stage activities. As far as it depends upon Jim and me, we’re trying to push everything that’s a front-stage activity into Tuesdays and Wednesdays. When we’re recording this podcast, for example, it’s Wednesday. This is a front-stage activity for me, so it’s getting blocked in here on Wednesday. Then Saturday and Sunday are offstage time. That’s time when I’m not thinking about work. I’m not talking about work. I’m not reading about work. I’m doing something other than work. So, that’s how mine looks for this year.

Larry: Well, that wraps up our annual preview episode. Let me remind everybody of the six steps to conducting your own annual review and preview.

Step 1: List your biggest wins.

Step 2: Conduct an after-action review.

Step 3: Conduct a goal review.

Step 4: Conduct a calendar review.

Step 5: Review your daily rituals.

Step 6: Review your Ideal Week.

Let me bring this home with one question, hopefully tie a nice bow on it for the new year. What is your vision for 2019 in one word?

Megan: Optimization.

Michael: Pruning.

Larry: All right. There’s a preview of the year ahead for Michael and Megan and for Michael Hyatt & Company. Happy New Year, everybody.